We all remember the glory days of high school. History, algebra, maybe a P.E. day every now and then and of course…. the dreaded writing class. We know; some days it felt like agony trying to get one single idea out on paper.
However, your scary old English teacher may have actually been on to something. Journaling can not only improve your personal life, but it can also improve your altruistic focus. As it turns out, regular writing in a journal has a lot of surprising mental and emotional health benefits. Check out these six reasons you should consider picking up a pen and writing!
1. Emotional Outlet
Step one: emotional intelligence. Holding in emotions—especially sad, angry, or negative ones—has been shown to have incredibly detrimental effects on a person’s health. Daily journaling allows you to release these emotions in a safe, non-judgemental environment, while increasing your self-awareness and emotional perception. Getting negative stuff out on paper leaves more room for positivity to fill you up, leading to a happier and healthier lifestyle.
2. Stress Reduction
With emotional intelligence also comes less stress. Oftentimes, we feel overwhelmed at situations we perceive as uncontrollable. However, writing about these experiences and actually seeing them on paper gives us something to grasp mentally, helping to reduce our stress levels about the issue. A study by Psychology Today showed journaling not only reduces stress, but also lowers anxiety and induces a deeper sleep.
3. Creativity Boost
This one’s a no-brainer. The more you write, the more practice you have to get those creative juices flowing. You’ve probably heard this saying before:
“The question isn’t whether or not we’re creative, it is how to let the creativity out.”
Regular writing gives you the opportunity to brainstorm new ideas, thoughts and questions, pushing you out of your comfort zone and into a brand new creative realm.
4. Mental Engagement
Of course, the more creative we feel, the more our brains are challenged, and the more we are mentally engaged, which can literally strengthen our IQ. As journaling is an exploration of language, it causes us to search for new words, challenge ideas and strengthen our vocabulary. So, your English teacher was right—writing does make you smarter.
Setting aside time each day to journal and then sticking to it creates a more disciplined lifestyle, which is a valuable asset. Self-discipline can then seep into other areas of life, like getting your work assignments done on time, following through on relationship promises or even eating healthier. When it comes to making a positive change, nothing is more important than having a strong self-discipline.
6. Goal Setting
Finally, one of the greatest benefits of all: journaling helps you set and achieve your goals. When we journal, we write about our aspirations, our dreams and our goals. Putting these words to paper and actually writing out what we want to accomplish makes them much more realistic—and realistic equates to achievable. Writing down goals tells your brain “this is important.” Then, your brain is more prepared to mark relevant opportunities and tools to achieve the goal.
While writing might not have been your favorite class in high school, you may feel differently today. Keeping a daily journal has enormous benefits, and encourages us to live a happier, healthier and more altruistic life. Whether you’re sitting at home, relaxing in the park or enjoying your favorite restaurant, crack open your journal and get to writing… you may just be surprised at everything you have to say!